Just a few weeks after its accreditation was withdrawn by the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE), Abia State Polytechnic Aba is into another problem, this time, it is a serious allegation of certificate forgery.
An Umuahia-based lawyer, Okey Amechi, SAN, has petitioned the Rector of the institution, Prof. Kalu Osonwa, to question how a student, Gregory Okwuchukwu Okafor obtained his Ordinary National Diploma (OND), result from the institution.
In a similar move, a human rights organization, Centre for Reform and Public Advocacy (CRPA), has also written the polytechnic, over the same issue demanding answers about possible certificate racketeering.
Aba City Blog reports that for some years, Abia State Polytechnic has been on the news for the wrong reasons, ranging from non-payment of salaries, school fees receipt forgery, extortion from lecturers and now, certificate racketeering.
In the petition, Amechi said Okafor, a businessman in Aba, and a member of the Aba Sports Club 1926, had indicated an interest in contesting the election for the office of the President of the Club scheduled for December 1, 2021.
He said going by the Constitution of the Club, an aspiring member must be a holder of at least a Diploma obtained from a tertiary institution.
Amechi alleged that Okafor, having not the said academic qualification, secured admission during the 2018/2019 academic session into the department of Business Administration and Management.
“Surprisingly, Chief Okafor who had up to the closure of nominations for the office of the President of the Club maintained he was a student of Abia Poly, suddenly brought a purported OND statement of result, dated November 30, 2021.
“This statement of result purportedly showed that Chief Okafor had graduated from your school with effect from August 1, 2020,” he said.
He noted that the OND statement of result issued to the student which the institution said took effect from August 2020, was despite the disruptions in academic activities across the globe in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Amechi said the authenticity of the said result issued to Okafor was seriously in doubt, stressing that as of December 2021, the school was yet to graduate students for the 2018/2019 session.
Casting further doubt over the authenticity of the result, the petitioner averred, “The Diploma statement of result, though dated November 30, 2021, still bears the letter-headed paper of a long retired Registrar of the school, Chief Mrs C. A Nwabughiogu, instead of the current Registrar, Mr Oriaku Chinyere. C. , while an attestation letter to the Aba Sports Club, also dated November 30, 2021, had Oriaku’s letter-headed paper.
He therefore, requested the Polytechnic to verify in writing, the status of the ND Statement of result issued to Chief Okafor to avoid legal actions.
Meanwhile, CRPA has also requested the institution to verify and make public, the authenticity of the ND result issued to Chief Okafor.
The human rights group added that in dealing with its request, the Polytechnic should be guided by the need to protect the sanctity of the academic certificates of Abia State Polytechnic.
The lawyer and the rights group had noted that the letter-headed paper of the immediate past Registrar was used to issue the Diploma result dated November 30, 2021, when she had retired from the polytechnic.
In another petition written to Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, Mr. Collins Opurozor noted the anomalies in the process leading to the award of ND to the businessman.
He urged the anti corruption commission to investigate the matter and bring those culpable to book
Contacted about the petitions, the Rector of the Polytechnic, Prof. Kalu Osonwa, directed inquiries to the Registrar.
However, the Registrar, Mr Oriaku Chinyere. C, dismissed the allegations when asked about the issue of the attestation letter he sent to the Aba Sports Club 1926 and the Diploma statement of result, both dated November 30, 2021, bearing his letter headed paper and that of the immediate past Registrar of the Polytechnic, Chief Mrs C.A. Nwabughiogu, respectively, signed by one Ogbuji Ebere Peace.
Oriaku admitted that there have been many inquiries about the matter which the school had answered and supplied the necessary pieces of evidence to prove that the allegation of certificate racketeering is false.
“I can tell you that those things are false allegations being peddled by those who don’t know the operations of the institution. All documents necessary for clarification on the matter are with us and we’re ready to make them available. But I can categorically tell you that those allegations are false,” Oriaku said.
When contacted, the Immediate past Registrar, Chief Mrs Nwabughiogu denied doing any wrong, insisting that she retired from the polytechnic before November 30, 2021.